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International Ski Federation defends slopestyle’s safety

Apr 14, 2014, 10:34 AM EST

Alexey Sobolev Reuters

It’s too early to comment on the amount and seriousness of injuries sustained in slopestyle skiing and snowboarding at the Sochi Olympics, an International Ski Federation (FIS) official said in response to an IOC official saying the injury rates were too high for the sports to stay in the Olympic program.

“The protection of the athletes’ health and the safety of the environment they are competing in are top priorities for the FIS and the IOC who work actively together on these important topics on an ongoing basis,” said FIS secretary general Sarah Lewis, according to insidethegames. “In regard to the slopestyle events that took place in Sochi, it would be premature to comment on the quantity and quality of injuries that occurred as the full IOC Injury and Illness Surveillance Study conducted by the IOC Medical Commission has not yet been finalized.”

Lewis said comments from the IOC’s Lars Engebretsen questioning slopestyle events’ safety were “apparently personal comments which do not represent the position of the IOC.”

“Right now the injury rate as it was in Sochi was too high to be a sport that we have in the Olympics,” Engebretsen, head of scientific activities at the IOC’s medical and scientific department, told The Associated Press last week. “That sport should change, otherwise we shouldn’t have it.”

In Sochi, Shaun White pulled out of snowboard slopestyle one day before the competition, citing injury risk. Another medal threat, Norway’s Torstein Horgmo, broke a collarbone in a training crash and withdrew. Canadian favorite Mark McMorris suffered a broken rib at the Winter X Games on Jan. 25 and won bronze in Sochi behind American Sage Kotsenburg.

Slopestyle events made their Olympic debuts in Sochi. However, greater injuries to elite athletes leading into the Olympics were suffered in another new sport, ski halfpipe.

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